How You Train is How You Will Perform, Reviewing Tuller

There is a HUGE critical difference between training and practice. Training involves focused work to achieve a specific physical movement such as being able to draw your handgun and place it in the transition position in the fastest and smoothest manner.  Practice is focused work that seeks to achieve a neural pathway programming (NPP), i.e. being able to perform the movement you trained in without consciously thinking about it. If you have not been shown (trained in) all of the subtle nuances of the move and perhaps have only seen the movement in its beginning and ending positions there is a good chance you have practiced that movement over and over, erroneously and have engrained NPP that will take way longer to correct than would have if you had only been trained or coached in the correct motions.

In 1983 Dennis Tuller wrote an article “How Close is Too Close”, the inspiration for the article was a question by a student on how close an attacker with a contact weapon could be before the use of lethal force was justified. Since that time this has morphed from the Tuller Drill to the 21-foot rule and so forth yet none of those descriptors are adequate in answering the question.

If you want to know the answer try this simple drill, stand motionless on the seven yard line and draw and fire two rounds into a 9” circle on a silhouette target. The time it takes to accomplish that is essentially the distance that is too close for you. If you can do this under 1.5 seconds 21 feet might be the right answer for you. If it takes you 7 seconds you would need 98 feet . . . and if you start shooting at people who are 98 feet away I am guessing you will find yourself in a court of law defending your actions.

Liberty Firearms Training PH1 target

Liberty Firearms Training PH1 target

So to add a touch of realism to this exercise, because we ALL know we should be training for real life events, do the same drill while moving off the line, either sideways or away from the target. The movement will to a small degree mimic the movement that would occur in real life. Again if you are still impacting good hits under 1.5 seconds consider yourself well trained and practiced . . . if not, consider taking some training, and then practicing this drill until you can do it because this is reality.

People do not seem to realize just how quickly things happen in a violent encounter, if you are one of them you are at risk. Coming to the realization that this can happen is your first step in awareness that can save your life.

So just how do you accomplish this drill in that amount of time?

First you have to be able to get your gun in the retention ready position in 0.5 seconds or less, muzzle on target, trigger at the hard spot and front sight in your peripheral field of sight. This is a dry practice exercise, do it in front of a mirror, do it a lot and do it until you can get the gun ready to drive out towards the threat. That means you have to be able to position the gun correctly, obtain a correct grip, go on trigger and be at the hard spot ready to fire. This is the first step. Going to the range and practicing this while missing the target or doing it sloppily and taking too much time is only going to engrain bad habits. Once you are at that point you are ready to go hot.

Step two is to learn to drive the gun from the transition position to the target while steering the front sight and at the end of this extension smoothly press the trigger straight to the rear without moving the front sight. In essence to be at this point you will have already mastered the fundamentals of trigger control in a double action mode of fire. To test this ability, stand 15 yards from an 8” circular target, we use steel plates for the instant feedback, and from the transition position ready to fire, extend smoothly towards target while performing a double action trigger press. When you can do this 10 times in a row without a miss, move back to 20 yards and work up to ten times consecutively at this distance. What you are learning to do is how to move the gun towards the target, steering the sights into the correct position while pressing the trigger to the rear.

Okay, so now we can get the gun to the transition position and are ready to fire in 0.5 seconds.

Next step, extend the gun smoothly and fire one round double action into that 9” circle in 0.75 seconds. When you are able to do this every time it is time to combine this with the draw stroke and put rounds on target in 1.25 seconds.

After that we will add in how to fire a double shot in 0.25 seconds . . . and then add movement from our position.

564730_10150662883331139_1054759514_n Training is fun. I love to learn new techniques. Practice can be boring because it is simply repeating the same movement perfectly over and over until the mind begins to take over and you can do it without even thinking about it . . . and this is how you will perform in a violent encounter, exactly as you have trained and practiced.



What is your practice regime?

There are a variety of ways to practice as well as the various type of shooting you are practicing. All are beneficial at least during the various stages of your progression.

There is practice of the Fundamentals of Marksmanship, usually done at a public range, standing motionless, shooting at a fixed target. This type of practice is more beneficial in the beginning for new shooters because you want to engrain in your memory the correct way to stand, grip, control the trigger, and align your sights, your sight picture and your follow through. It is called neural pathway programming, basically creating a memory in your mind of a physical action so you can perform this action on a more subconscious level. Regardless of the type of shooting you do, or your proficiency level you must always maintain good fundamentals which includes incorporating them into your practice regime, for it is a certainty, they are perishable skills.

If you have not tried this I always recommend it to people who do not have the fundamentals committed to memory. It is the Winchester/NRA Qualification Program, it is self-administered up to the last level AND it gives you focused practice without wasting ammunition just punching holes in paper while engraining BAD fundamentals.


If you are a competitive shooter your practice sessions will include some fundamentals but you will begin to focus more on physical actions to allow you to score better in your chosen sport.

If you are a purely defensive shooter and your gun is intended to be used to save your life or the life of an innocent person then your practice session is entirely different . . . or at least it should be because the use and need of the gun is ENTIRELY different than the previously mentioned practices.


When I practice I will normally work on a couple of skills, maybe as simple as getting the gun in the correct position before I extend towards target, or perhaps just working on shooting through the sights quickly.

After I have warmed up if you will, by shooting a bit while working on my skills I will begin to run a couple of drills. I do the same ones every time because I am interested in how I am doing over time. We all have good days and not so good days but you cannot use one days shooting as an indication of long term change in your shooting ability.

Drills are intended to challenge your ability, to measure how you stand relative to prior performance or relative to another group of shooters. I have a list of about 300 drills but have narrowed that down to just two that I like to run each time I have a practice session. I guess when I get to where I run those perfectly every time I will have to find others to challenge myself.

This first one is pretty simple, I place a paper plate over the appropriate area of a silhouette target, rounds inside the margin count as one point, rounds on the edge or are out do not. If you exceed the allotted time, the rounds do not count.

For Advanced Students the Standards are:
Seven Yards – draw and fire one shot on Plates in 1.75 seconds.
Seven Yards – drawn and fire one shot, do a slide-lock reload and fire a shot on Plates in 3.5 seconds.
Seven Yards – draw and fire six rounds on Plates in 3.5 seconds.
25 Yards – 10 shots slow fire inside 9” paper plate, hits must be inside the edge.

Keep in mind that not everyone will shoot a perfect score and you should develop your on acceptable level of efficiency, say 75% for starters. Once you have attained that level raise it and keep pushing yourself to shoot faster and more accurately. Only you can protect yourself and your loved ones.

Finally I end up with a scenario, basically a pretend gunfight, timed and scored. I usually do the same one once a month, again to just monitor my progress . . . am I improving, holding or declining.

Running a scenario

Owning a gun does not make you a shooter, going to the range and practicing crap makes you a crap master. Get some training and then practice until you are good at what you trained to do . . . then get some more training and practice more . . . I am certain you do not walk through life wanting to be just average.

“Training is great but training only teaches you what to practice. If you don’t practice, guess what? You’re never going to be very good!” – Ken Hackathorn


Measuring your Firearm Proficiency and Progress

Everyone who enjoys shooting firearms at some point or another will want to know how they are doing. Often that simply means going to a range, standing motionless and see how many holes they can punch into a paper target. Their observations as to proficiency are what we call anecdotal, as they have no record of what they did last time and the measurement of how well they did that day is purely a guess.

Practicing what you have trained to be able to do is an important part of learning skills. To measure your progress over time we suggest finding a drill, which you can shoot at some frequency to monitor if you are improving or failing. There is no such thing in shooting proficiency as staying the same, you are always either improving or declining. The definitions I use are skills; actions such as just drawing the gun and firing a shot on target. A drill is a skill or series of skills with measurements of success attached such as time and score.

At the end of my class yesterday I decided to test myself since it was still early and I was not too exhausted from teaching and the heat. Having lately had a few students fail to qualify on their first try of CCW Q-Course I decided to fire that one first just to see if my proficiency in that drill was up to my standards.

Our CCW Q-Course is copied from a state LE Agency, our reasoning for selecting it is that should you ever have to use your gun we will be able to attest that you qualified during training equivalent to what the States LE arm does. Makes perfect sense to me.

It is shot on a silhouette target, we are now using the LFT – PH1 target. The scoring is pretty simple; a shot inside the 9” ring on center of mass is 10 points, a hit on the torso is 5 points.

Liberty Firearms Training PH1 target

Liberty Firearms Training PH1 target

The Course of Fire;

15 yards with cover, 70 seconds is the allotted time.
6 rounds from knee(s) drawing from holster and with shooting hand only in the open to slide lock,
go to cover and reload, 6 rounds standing two hands from the non-shooting side of cover to slide lock,
reload, 6 rounds standing two hands from the shooting side of cover.

7 yards,
Draw and fire one round, two hands, 2 seconds allotted time – repeat for a total of 6 rounds
Draw and fire two rounds, two hands, 3 seconds allotted time – repeat for a total of 6 rounds
Draw and fire six rounds to slide lock, reload and fire six rounds, two hands, 30 seconds allotted time – for a total of 12 rounds.

3 yards,
Draw and fire two rounds, two hands, 3 seconds allotted time – repeat for a total of 6 rounds
Draw and fire six rounds to slide lock, shooting hand only, reload and fire six rounds with non-shooting hand only, 25 seconds allotted time – for a total of 12 rounds.

A passing score would be 450 points or 75%, shots fired after the time has expired do not count. A proficient shooter should be around 540 points consistently.

Give it a try, see how you do.


Violent Confrontations – in the Transition Zone

With the recent court case in Florida while I believe the verdict was correct, many people on both sides of the debate have asked how this could have happened.

Our greatest risk in our daily movements occurs when we are transitioning from one place to another. Generally speaking when we “are” somewhere we are relatively safe from violent attack assuming we have maintained a reasonable sense of situational awareness. Once we leave those places, moving from one area of relative safety to another we become exposed and are decidedly more vulnerable to attack.

The Zimmerman case is a perfect example of this. While driving in his car there was little chance of being punched in the face, knocked to the ground and having his head slammed on the concrete. Additionally his concealed carry weapon would not have become exposed had Mr. Zimmerman been in his car.

This clearly shows my point, once you leave a position of relative safety your dependence on situational awareness increases exponentially. Since second guessing something from the relative safety of my computer is very easy think of it this way, had Mr. Zimmerman observed the person from his car would any of this had happened? Could Mr. Zimmerman have been able to perform his desired function of watching for suspected criminal activity in the relative safety of his car?

This is not in any way saying we should not be able to go for a stroll on a public street it is only stating what I believe is the obvious. The transition from the car and then back to the car exposes you to risks that to avoid requires a much higher level of awareness. When you carry a gun there is a responsibility to not intentionally put yourself in places that would greatly increase the risk of having to use that gun.

I believe Mr. Zimmerman was in his rights to do what he did, however I do not think he would be in the position he is in today had he instead of transitioning from his car, just drove around, observed, reported and maintained the cover and concealment he had in his car.

Don’t put yourself in harm’s way. It is not your job and the risks rise greatly when you do so.

What Kind of Gun Should I Get?

This is a question we hear on an almost daily basis and my standard answer is that depends, what are you going to use it for.


From a purely defensive mindset I can think of three or four separate purposes and surprisingly enough your skill level is self-defense has a lot to do with which gun works best for each individual purpose. The answer we hear most is home defense. Unlike many people we DO NOT recommend a small, untrained woman by a Remington 870 in 12 gauge because we do not subscribe to various wild theories 1) that you don’t have to aim it, 2) that the sound of the slide racking will frighten everyone away, 3) that it won’t hit your neighbors house, or 4) that it is the most devastating wound (please note you have to hit what you are shooting at to have a devastating wound). If you don’t regularly practice with a gun, it is not the gun to use in a violent encounter, so first is, the gun must be fun to shoot.

BruiseIn home defense our standard recommendation for a beginning shooter is a full size semi-automatic from a manufacturer with a known history of zero failures, in a caliber with a proven history of stopping bad guys. We will save the obvious questions on that statement for another blog. We also assume the shooter is a student or will be so their ability to handle correctly is assumed.


As the shooter progresses in their training and practice at some point the recommended handgun will not be the best gun for home defense because after all, it isn’t . . . drum roll please . . . IMG_0786[1]

the best gun for home defense would be a semi-automatic carbine loaded with .223/5.56 ballistic tip ammunition. Now I can already hear the howling of the “experts” who do not teach for a living but the fact is there, a 5.56 has the best rate of fire, has the best wound cavity, can be shot very fast and accurately and  . . . DOES NOT OVER PENETRATE, thus the purpose of the blog.

The wound 4212772879_b76e88aa47_ocavity of this round makes about a 3” to 4” diameter pile of hamburger shortly after entering the body and generally if anything leaves the body it has no mass and is therefore much less lethal. If your predator requires physiological damage to cease the threat, this is a good way to do it.

223 Drywall Penetration_ Results 1090522_01__223_60_gr_ballistic_varmint_a_640

Considering the high velocity of this round when it penetrates drywall the bullet essentially comes apart as compared to ALL others thus greatly reducing the risk of someone in the next room receiving a lethal injury.


Your thoughts?

Either you Carry . . . or you don’t

I carry. That means I really carry, when I get dressed I put on my gun and it stays there unless I’m teaching until I get undressed at night . . . sometimes I carry in my bathrobe pocket if I’m up after getting undressed . . . so you see, I carry.

Donna ran across this youtube this morning and it was SO true, I thought I must share it . . . too funny and TOO TRUE.


What’s in your pocket?

7 Questions to Ask When Selecting a Firearms Instructor

Most responsible people who shoot regularly know that the learning curve can be greatly improved when you take training from a qualified instructor rather than trying to teach themselves from youtube videos and articles on gun forums.DSC00112bing And hopefully most people realize that we can certainly practice, practice, practice what we know but cannot train ourselves since practice is nothing more than repeating perfectly what you have been trained to do.

When it comes to self-defense training is even more important in that during a violent encounter you will sink to your lowest level of training, and if you have had none, that will be your lowest level.

Selecting an Instructor

Finding a quality instructor is not that easy really since in the firearms instruction business there are no barriers to entry and anyone can get a rudimentary certification and hang out a shingle. When you have come to the level of learning where you are consciously incompetent, meaning you know you don’t know and you want to learn it is wise to determine what your training goals are and what you hope to obtain in training. Different instructors offer different areas of expertise for instance let’s say you want to compete, you might seek an instructor who is or has been a national level competitor. On the other hand let’s say you want to go to work with a LE agency, you might seek an instructor who has been a LEO or still is. There is a decided difference in study and expertise between competition shooting, law enforcement, military and self-defense. When you look at the four different realms keep in mind your purpose and objective, if you want to be able to defend yourself in a violent encounter you should probably seek instruction from those whose sole focus and experience comes from that field. And now, the sort of defining factor, the instructor has to be able to quickly communicate to you those skills you are seeking for regardless of the instructors’ background and experience, if they cannot quickly teach you are only going to have a “range master” barking commands at you.

What is the Instructor/Schools level of experience as an Instructor?

DSC00041If you found that you needed surgery would you select a Doctor that does 20 or 30 surgeries a year? Probably not because you know two things, the more someone does something generally speaking the better they do it over time and secondly, your life may depend on that persons success. The same really holds true to firearms Instructors. As mentioned earlier anyone can become an instructor, post a class listing and voila, I is an Instructor . . . and they may actually hold 20 to 40 group classes a year. When I personally seek instruction I look for a specific instructor who teaches 150 to 200 days a year because I know he is good at what he does, imparting knowledge to the student. I look for an instructor who is more interested in my learning than the number of bodies (read that as fees) that they are able to generate over a certain time period. The busier the instructor is, who is working with individuals rather than groups the better my chance of achieving my learning goals.

What is the stated focus of the School/Instructor?

For me, I am looking to learn how to be a better teacher so that is my focus and I look specifically to Instructors/Schools that train Instructors. When I started these learning process years ago I looked for Instructors who focused primarily on the area of expertise I was looking to learn. If you wish to play Spec Ops you might look for an Instructor/School that focuses on teaching military. If your objective is to become a better IDPA competitive shooter you might look for that kind of school.  If you want to be able to defend yourself in a violent encounter I suggest you find an Instructor/School that focuses on that specific goal because one size does not fit all and all of the different shooting disciplines have distinctly different ways of doing things with firearms. If the Instructor does not state specifically there is a good chance they are a one size fits all mindset, that all types of shooting activities are the same.

What is the satisfaction level of former students?

Almost all Instructors receive good reviews; I mean after all who is going to demean publicly a person who knows how to shoot well. So how do you determine what the students think about the value they received? You could ask for a list of names to contact from say the last 10 to 15 classes they taught. If an Instructor would not be willing to do that for me I would wonder what it is they are trying to hide. You can always check their testimonials online but you have to be able to read between the lines and realize no one is going to outright bash a bad firearms Instructor, at least not publicly. You can also check with local ranges and gun stores, these people do not mind being honest because a quality instructor is beneficial to all in the business, if they know of a dirt bag they will not hesitate to tell you and most will steer you to Instructors they know the reputation of.

What class size are you willing to suffer?

Suffer? What does he mean suffer? Class size will determine how many strangers with guns you are going to have to interact with. Class size will determine based on the student/instructor ratio how much of the instructors’ actual time you will receive.IMG_0415 As an example, there are 15 people in the class, it lasts eight hours and there is only one REAL instructor . . . you will receive in actuality less than one half an hour of that instructors attention and time during that day. I took a four day class once at a nationally known school, there were 50 shooters in my class and each day there was one Instructor and one assistant and on two days there were two assistants. So for those four days I received a total of less than one hour of the Instructors time, and I paid top dollar for the class . . . not the best return on my training investment. So in the end, you have to ask yourself how much of the Instructors attention do you want and that will help determine the class size you are willing to suffer,

What is the flexibility in terms of scheduling and location that you require?

Are you able to pick the day of the week that you want to take training? What about the week or month of the year? Most Instructors post a class date and that is it, you go that day or you don’t go. I’m not sure about you but my life requires just a bit more flexibility and unless I MUST have instruction from that ONE particular instructor, I have a hard time being tied down to their schedule. For me that means my selections become limited. I don’t like limited, do you?

What is the specific Instructors background as it relates specifically to teaching?

The objective to taking training is to learn and subsequently the Instructor must be able to teach. Because a person performed a firearms related job most of their lives does not mean they know how to teach. Teaching requires modifying your method of communication with each individual student to ensure the students understands the instruction and accomplishes the stated goals of the lesson. Sitting in a chair off to the side of the range barking Range Master orders through a megaphone to a line of shooters is not instructing. And just because the instructor explains something thoroughly does not necessarily mean the student understands. No student fails, only instructors fail. This means in essence that the quality instructor will have had in his background a proven level of success in training people in complicated tasks. But this does not imply in any way that the Instructor does not have to have a level of proficiency in the field they are teaching as it is a fine balancing act. A teacher/instructor succeeds the greatest when the students can surpass the Instructors personal ability. There is nothing more satisfying to me than to have a student out shoot me in an exercise or drill because it simply means I did my job well.

What is this going to cost?

I mentioned earlier in class size how much of the Instructors time do I receive. Firearms instruction is not a Walmart item, cheaper in bulk is not going to give you the best learning ability if your life is potentially on the line based on what you learn. There has to be a way to compare the value of different instructors/schools. Let’s use this as an example. You are going to pay $250 for a 16 hour course, and there will be two instructors and 20 students. That is the same as having one instructor for 10 students. Essentially you are going to receive 1.6 hours of the instructors dedicated time for $250, which means if you had the full dedicated attention of one instructor for 16 hours your real cost of instruction is $156.25 per hour of instructors’ time, or in reality you are receiving only 1.6 hours of individualized training. There is a reason Instructors like doing large classes, they make more money. If your instructor is more interested in how much money they make versus the amount of real instruction you receive, they might not be the best pick because in the end, YOU DO GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR and if your life could be on the line I for one am not going to make my decision based on purely cost.


This list is not in order of importance to me; it is just my thought process when I look to take firearms training for myself. I hope no one takes this post as an attack on some instructors, it is not meant in that manner but it is given in the same intent as we do our teaching, to ensure that the student gets the best possible, up to date training in personal self-defense because in the end, it is all about the student.

What time of day does violence occur?

When should you be carrying a gun? How about all the time.

Some students look at us strangely when we talk about having a gun within arms reach 24/7, or that we talk about having a gun in the kitchen while we are preparing dinner.

You cannot predict when you will need to protect yourself. You cannot determine that it is 10:00 am or 6:00 pm and therefore I will be safe from asocial violence. Being in your home does not make you safe from violence. You are at risk 24 hours a day.

Recently, only one and a half blocks from here there was a street robbery, two violent criminals pulled guns on an older man walking down the street demanding he give them his phone. When he convinced them he did not have one they took his baseball cap . . . and it could have just easily been they shot him for not having a phone.

The attack in this video occured at 10:00 am in a seemingly safe residential area, the animal kicked in the front door. Had this woman been prepared to defend herself and her family with a gun, training and practice the results would have quite probably been different.

Bottom line, only you can protect yourself, you will never know when violence will come and if you have not received any training you will not know what to do in this situation.

Qualifying Course of Fire

The simple definition of this is an agency, school or instructor has determined that for you to be qualified with a particular weapon platform you need to shoot a certain course of fire in a required amount of time and with a “passing” score. Most LE agencies have this as well as most Concealed Carrying issuing entities and on the rare occasion some training schools as well but more on the rare exception. It seems to really be more about liability than ability and I find that unfortunate since qualifying simply means to me I have been able to perform with this gun equal to a specific standard.
In our area of CA most Sheriffs Departments have passed on this responsibility to the Instructors they allow to present training certificates for the applicants. Like setting standards for liability I personally find this as a way to avoid responsibility for the Sheriffs Department and this lack of standardization allows people on the street with guns who simply are not qualified to defend themselves or others.

We teach a fair amount of people who have already obtained their permit and have come to us when they realized that their training was sub-par. One student told us she had to fire five rounds from a .22 revolver to qualify for her permit. At LFT we like to use a standard that is recognized and approved through out the State, that is, the California Highway Patrol standard, and the simple reason for this is if you ever have to shoot your training will be called immediately into question. Do you have training records? All of the classes you have taken because surely only one class at one time is sufficient, not. Does the school/instructor you worked with maintain records adequate enough to prove to a jury of your peers that you were adequately trained and qualified?
Since starting LFT we have looked at literally hundreds of standards before settling on the CHP standard for our CCW qualifications. During that time I looked hard at the FBI standard because being the top LE agency in the world would lead you to believe they would have the highest standard. What I saw at the time was a variation of a 1960’s theme, shooting a lot of rounds from 25 yards which I believe everyone realizes today is just not what happens in the real world so when I saw that in January the FBI had changed their Q Course I was kind of excited to see if it had become more applicable to real life shootings.

This is the new FBI Q Course:
Target used is the QIT-99
Course consists of a total of 60 rounds
Each round counts as one point
Any hits inside the target area count
You must draw from concealment for every string of shots
Passing score for Agents is 48 out of 60, or 80%

Stage 1: 3 yard line
3 rounds in 3 seconds using your strong hand only
3 rounds in 3 seconds using your strong hand only
3 rounds using strong hand only, switch hands, 3 rounds using support hand only all in 8 seconds
Total of 12 rounds for Stage 1

Stage 2: 5 yard line
This stage and the remaining stages all shot with two hands
3 rounds in 3 seconds
3 rounds in 3 seconds
3 rounds in 3 seconds
3 rounds in 3 seconds
Total of 12 rounds for Stage 2

Stage 3: 7 yard line
4 rounds in 4 seconds
4 rounds in 4 seconds
Have two magazines loaded with four rounds each. Fire four rounds, reload, fire another four rounds in 8 seconds.
Total of 16 rounds for Stage 3

Stage 4: 15 yard line
3 rounds in 6 seconds
3 rounds in 6 seconds
4 rounds in 8 seconds
Total of 10 rounds for Stage 4

Stage 5: 25 yard line
This stage involves the use of a barricade/cover)
Move to cover and fire 2 rounds standing, then 3 rounds kneeling all in 15 seconds
Move to cover and fire 2 rounds standing, then 3 rounds kneeling all in 15 seconds
Total of 10 rounds for Stage 5

I was expecting it to be a bit more difficult but it is what it is . . . give it a try and see how well you do. Please note, it is done with the weapon concealed and that will add greatly to the difficulty . . . so carry your gun as you normally do and give it a try.

One final note on standards . . . your personal shooting/training standards, what are they? Do you practice them regularly? Do you keep records of your training and practice sessions? Can you draw from concealment at 15′ and place two rounds to CoM in 1.5 seconds?

Training can save your life in more ways than you imagine.

When Can You Present (Draw) Your Concealed Carry Handgun?

This question comes up at almost every CCW class I teach, and my standard response is “it depends”. Now I know that sounds more like a CPA answering a tax question but in fact it is a very valid answer as each and every case of legitimate use of a firearm in self-defense is unique.

Generally speaking you may not present your gun to threaten someone, even if they are threatening you. Legally your handgun can only be used to save you or another from grave bodily injury. Yes, many times a gun was presented and that ended the threat but to draw the gun it is still required for you and a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstance to believe that a threat of grave bodily injury is imminent.

I often tell students that once you present your gun you have essentially backed yourself into a corner and you now may have to use it when there were other options prior to that point. The gun is a tool of last resort and if you carry it concealed you CANNOT use it to ward off potential threats and it really should only come out of the holster when the expectation is to not draw would result in some innocent being seriously injured or killed.

So let’s look at some possible situations where it may or may not be appropriate to draw or show your gun.

You are walking back to your car in the parking lot of the mall when you discover it is now the latest hotspot for a group of six obviously intoxicated males to sit on and smoke a joint in that nice shady spot where you parked. Can you go up to them and show them your holstered gun and tell them to take a hike? Can you pull your little pea shooter and demand they get on the ground face down? Should you even approach them?

Well the obvious conclusion I hope you came to was to turn around and walk away, do not approach them and in particular you CANNOT draw or brandish your gun to get them to leave . . . and you will not believe how many potential students who I have talked to say they would show them their holstered gun to frighten off the bad guys. In the end, I just hit the alarm button on the remote as I walked to the car and when they jumped like their pants were on fire I apologized and stated that I had hit the wrong button on the remote, quickly jumped in and drove off.

Here’s another possible scenario, you are driving into a complex parking lot across the street from a crowded park on the 4th of July and two cars have the entrance blocked. As you come to a stop you see three young men hunkered down by the rear window of the forward car exchanging money for little packages. If you assume it is a drug deal I would guess you are right. So to make a quick exit you throw your vehicle in reverse only to find a car right behind you blocking your way. At this point the three guys are giving you a look that says they are going to mess you up for interrupting their fun. You throw up your hands in a gesture of “you guys are blocking my path” and all of a sudden three other obvious ne’er do wells pile out of the forward car as it begins to slowly creep out of your way. Now instead of a car you have six young males who you are pretty certain have been conducting a felony right in front of you blocking your way. Is this the time to whip out your gun and start banging away? or point it at them with a menacing look on your face?

There is no clear cut answer to what to do but pointing your gun is not going to be beneficial unless they show intent to cause you grave bodily injury. Pretty shaky scenario actually.

Thug with gun

Please note, do not attempt to use your gun with the slide locked open

One last one before I leave you to ponder your actions. You are walking in a crowded mall, near the end where there are several closed businesses and no one is down there but you and another person walking towards you. Since you are going to pass too close to this person you alter your angle to leave plenty of distance between you considering the relative isolation you are in. Three steps after you change direction the approaching individual alters his direction to be coming right at you again . . . at this point your “spidey senses” should start to tingle for there was NO reason for this person to do that except to get close to you. So being a wise individual you alter your path again only to end up walking right next to the wall of some closed business . . . and low and behold, the jerk changes angle again coming right at you and at this point he raises a $20 bill in front of his face as he approaches . . . OMG he is hiding his face as he closes in on you. So at this point do you just whip out your piece and start banging, or stick it in his face so he will know to leave you alone?

Again as with most of these there is no right answer, there could in fact be several right answers but there is definitely a wrong answer. You CANNOT present or show your gun because the person is not an imminent threat of grave bodily injury. SO what did I do? Well when he was 20′ away I said to myself, self if he keeps coming give him a command and prepare to defend yourself. So I turned my gunside to the wall behind me, blading myself to the approaching “BADGUY”, discreetly placed my hand on the butt of my gun . . . and at the top of my lungs I screamed “GET THE F*** AWAY FROM ME” . . . and at that point you would have thought the guy had been launched out of a cannon as he took off running like his pants were on fire.

Right or wrong, it was effective. My posture indicated I was ready for a fight and I would guess he was wondering why my hand was behing my back under my sports coat . . . but really I think my profanity laced screaming convinced him I was insane. In the end he ran, and my belief is most innocent people would not do that. Not sure what he was up to but I had zero intention of letting him get close enough to me to find out.

So ask yourself, when can you pull or brandish your gun? It is a very important question and you MUST know the answer for to get it wrong can lead to all sorts of bad things happening to YOU.

Failing to train IS training to fail.
Liberty Firearms Training


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